TCI News

Letter to the Editor: A Cry for Help in Turks and Caicos

#TurksandCaicosIslands – June 15, 2020 — I am writing this article with a heavy heart and with tears streaming down my face. I am an active member of the TCI Bariatric Group that was formed on WhatsApp approximately one year and one month ago by a number of TC Islanders. This group was initially formed by three ladies and to date we have twenty seven members comprising of both male and female.

For those of you who do not understand the term Bariatric, it is simply means the medical treatment of obesity which is being seriously overweight and a number of us have been deemed medically morbidly obese.

We as a group decided to put pen to paper and to bring our issues to the public to see if there are any persons with ample resource who will be able to assist us in any way possible. Some of us have been in constant battles with the government for way over three and a half years, yet to no avail. We are being turned around and toyed with as if we are not humans. We were told that if we got referrals from the doctors, that our issues would be place before the cabinet and that it should not be a problem for us to be given the bariatric procedure which is so badly needed to save all of our lives, so we all went and got numerous of referrals, some exceeding as much as five. We followed the necessary procedures, only to be told that are referrals were refused because the NHIP Policy does not cover this procedure and that it is deemed a cosmetic procedure. This here was a kick in our gut because collectively, we knew of persons who received breast augmentations, tummy tucks and I believe even Botox; all of these were cosmetic.

However, the breast augmentations and tummy tuck surgeries were to alleviate pain on the breast thus rendering them medically necessary. Well we have members in out group with a variety of life threatening ailments and who are immobile, such ailments are lymphedema, osteoarthritis in both knees and their hips, asthma, edema, sleep apnea, angina, blood pressure and the list goes on and on, so if these conditions does not warrant immediate action and deemed to be medically necessary then what is?

We need this surgery to live and I am afraid that if some of us don’t get it soon there could be possible fatalities.

We in this group are all TC Islanders paying our contributions to the NHIP Scheme from its inception and now when we need them the most they have turned their backs on us. They refuse to help us.

We have written to the Minister, the Premier and even to the Governor with our cried and have been disappointed, we haven’t received not one reply from either person. Had we been in any other country we would have been approved for and already given this surgery, and the bad part about it is that the surgery only cost roughly $10,500 in the states and Cayman. Are we not worth $10,500?

Many of you are probably saying it’s only $10,500 why don’t we pay for it ourselves? Well this is because we cannot afford it or we would not have been waiting on government to save our lives and to help us to live longer.

We have spoken to Dr. Maitland and Dr. Bewaji numerous times and have already appeal our decisions, only to be let down with refusals. We need help, we need this government to live up to the promise made to us. We were told that monies have already been budgeted for these procedures from last year budget and as of today nothing. Some of us have been told over two years bow that they are amending the policy to include this procedure under the NHIP Scheme, and to date, nothing yet. Some of us have been given month to month promises for the last three years that hopefully we would be out of here in a few weeks time to a month to undergo surgery, and to date, nothing yet.

Are we not humans? Do we not have a right to live? And what is so hurtful is that this procedure has been done in the past under the PNP Administration, where they sent off a number of TC Islanders to the States for this procedure. So this is nothing new and I really cannot fathom why we are being treated as less than humans? Why all the red tape? Why all the refusals? Why all the hiccups?

We are literally sick and tired of being sick and tired. This run around is not only tiresome and disappointing but it makes us feel as if we are being taken for a granted and as if we are insignificant.

Persons on the outside would look and say, oh go and exercise you all to lazy, or stop eating, you all too greedy and frankly that is not the case. Many of us cannot exercise because of our knees, our backs or something else, and really food is not an issue. It is simply a metabolism issue, a genetic issue or some other kind of medical issue.

I have seen bigger countries facing more serious issues than the TCI, that have amended and approve policies quicker than this, and especially one of this nature. This is because they take health seriously which NHIP obviously doesn’t.

God knows we have been patient and remain to be but this is ridiculous, enough is finally enough and we refuse to sit any longer whilst our lives are being toyed with. Every country we have contacted is offering this surgery free of cost to locals once persons meet the medical requirements, what is wrong with our Country?

You have persons in the TCI Bariatric chat if you were to hear their stories you would cry and probably opt to pay for their surgeries out of pocket. That is how much pain we go through on a daily basis. We pray that this article puts some heat under NHIP so that this process is finalized and we and persons similar to us can get the help that we so badly need.

It is highly logical that having this surgery now will in the future prevent the government for spending more on costly surgeries, such as back surgery, knee and hip replacement surgeries. We really do not understand why they cannot comprehend this? Any government in their rightfully thinking mind would consider this factor and weigh all the pros and cons, and once that is done, there is no way possible that this surgery should be refused.

I write this letter with tears coming down my face because of the pain we are in on a daily basis and have to conceal from the world just so that they will keep the negativity to themselves.

May the good Lord help us and continue to bless these beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos Islands.

Statement from the TCI Bariatric Group

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